The history of Indian Jews started when Jews came to India and remained there ages ago. They established major groups, namely the Cochinis, Baghdadi Jews, Bene Israelis, and the recently discovered Bene Menashe and Bene Ephraim.
Through the years, the Jews have been successfully retained their culture and tradition, and became a religious minority in India.
If you have gone to a Jewish tour, it is more likely that you were able to join a guided tour of famous Jewish heritage sites. But did you know that there are also Jews who also contributed so much to the history of India itself?
There are Jews who became high ranking officials, military leaders, and more. Here are some of the most notable Jews that had an impact to the history of India.
JFR Jacob – A war hero
Lieutenant General Jack Farj Rafael PVSM or JFR Jacob was a military officer that led the Indian army during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
Born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1924, Jacob grows up in a family of very religious Baghdadi Jews. Jacob was inspired to join the military because of the reports of what happened to the Jews during the World War II. Even though his father protested, Jacob enlisted himself in the British Indian Army in 1942.
One of his famous lines is “I am proud to be Jew, but am Indian through and through”.
David Sassoon – Philanthropist and a Noble Businessman
David Sassoon was a businessman born from a wealthy family. Born as an Iraqi Jew, he became the treasurer in Baghdad.
However, because of the persecution of Jews in Baghdad, the Sassoon family immigrated to India. He began his textile operations in Mumbai and later on he become one of the most important middlemen between British textile firms and merchants.
But David Sassoon did not only become a notable businessman. He is also a distinguished Jewish community leader. Using his wealth, he built prominent centers that still exist to this date. He built hospitals, libraries, synagogues, and schools and has contributed to the erection of Gateway of India, Clock Tower in Victoria Gardens and more.
Nissim Ezekiel – Writer and Broadcaster
Nissim Ezekiel began his career through teaching and publishing literary articles. Ezekiel’s passion for love, emotions, lust, politics has made him one famous poet in India. He then published his first book in 1952 called “Bad Day”.
He became a professor and head of English in Mithibai College in Mumbai. He was awarded Padma Shree in 1988 and felicitated with Sahitya Academy cultural award in 1983.
Ruby Myers – Actress
Ruby Myers made a breakthrough when female characters are having a hard time in landing notable characters in the film industry.
Better known by her stage name Sulochana, she featured in numerous hit films, making her the most prominent actress during the silent era.
IN 1973, she received India’s highest award in cinema for lifetime achievement – the Dada Saheb Phalke Award.
India, A Jewish Tour Destination
It’s true that the Jews may have been scattered all over the world to flee from persecution. But they made sure that they were able to build a legacy by contributing not only to their respective Jewish communities but also to the foreign land that they settled in for refuge.
If you want to go on a kosher trip, India is definitely a perfect destination for an exotic and culturally rich vacation.